Vail narrowed his gaze on her, studying her delicate features and the way she held herself, drinking in everything about her, searching for a clue as to the reason for his strange reactions to her. Perhaps they had drugged him. It was all a ploy to weaken him and lure him into her trap. They wanted to watch her bring him to his knees. They would laugh as he suffered at her hands.
They were attempting to play on his compassion, but that had been their mistake.
He had no compassion left.
It had been wrung out of him thousands of years ago.
â€œPlease?â€ she said again and gestured to the slab. â€œIâ€™m not going to hurt you. I just have to heal you.â€
He didnâ€™t want to lay on it and allow her to touch him. He didnâ€™t want her hands on him. Caressing. Fondling. Groping. He snarled and flashed his fangs again, and she shrank back, a little gasp escaping her.
â€œI would do as she asks, Mate. She isnâ€™t going to hurt you, but if she doesnâ€™t do as ordered, the demons will hurt her.â€ The deep male voice was little more than a snarl and Vail cast a glance off to his left.
A male with long dark hair streaked with gold occupied the cell opposite his, casually leaning against the thick deep grey stone wall. Green eyes locked with Vailâ€™s, holding him fast. Fae markings tracked up the maleâ€™s arms, flushed with blood red and ash black, a sign of aggression. He was handsome too, despite the thick dark beard. He folded his arms across his muscular bare chest, the twin cuffs he wore clanking and filling the heavy silence, but they had no chain between them.
If this male spoke the truth, then she did too, and the guards would punish her for her failure. Vail pressed his hands against the sides of his head, dug his fingers through his blue-black hair and clawed his scalp, raking his nails over it. Gods, he missed his claws. He missed his armour. He needed it back. It was the only thing that could ground him.
The male pushed away from the wall and moved to the bars. He wrapped his hands around them and his gaze slid to the female. Lingering. Possessing.
Vail bared his fangs and hissed at him, barely maintaining the human appearance of his eyes and ears. He had to hold on to his veil. He couldnâ€™t let these people know what he was. Who he was.
The man shrugged and kept staring at the female. â€œI warned you, Little Girl. You play with vipers and youâ€™ll get bitten.â€
â€œAnd I told you I will never leave someone to suffer if I can help them,â€ she snapped and folded her arms across her chest. â€œStay out of this, Incubus.â€
The male muttered something in the fae tongue and shoved his hands into the pockets of his dirty black jeans.
The female cast a scowl at him and bit out something in the same language.
Vail had long ago forgotten it. It had become useless to him after he and Loren had decided to save their people by moving them from the violent mortal world to the realm of Hell. No one spoke fae down here in this shadowy realm, and he had not left the elf kingdom in centuries.
No. That wasnâ€™t true. He had left it. He had turned his back on it. He had to remember that. He had gone to war with his own people.
All had forsaken him.
But not Loren.
Vail returned to the bench and sagged onto it, his heart heavy and aching behind his ribs. Loren had kept trying to save him. Why? Why hadnâ€™t his brother given up on him? Gods, he had wanted him to. He had pleaded every god of his species to make his brother leave him and forget about him. The gods hadnâ€™t listened to him. He had tried forcing his brother to end his foolâ€™s crusade to save him and save himself instead. Loren had refused.
What had he ever done to deserve such a brother?
He had murdered thousands. He had destroyed lands. He had ignited wars. He had done unspeakable things.
He didnâ€™t deserve forgiveness, so why did a sliver of his heart cling to the hope it might be his?
The female stopped in front of him and he looked up at her, caught off guard by her sudden appearance and unable to mask his pain before she saw it. Her incredible blue eyes reflected it back at him, laced it with compassion that he couldnâ€™t bear.
He closed his eyes, shutting her out, and lay back on the cold slab, no longer caring what she did to him. Loren would never give up. Vail had given up centuries ago.
His beloved brother was so much stronger than he could ever become.
The female dropped to her knees beside him and he tried not to squirm under her attention. He clenched his hands together and battled his instincts and the need to harm her. It wasnâ€™t Kordula. He opened his eyes and stared at her when his mind refused to believe that, forcing himself to see that the one tending to his wounds was someone else. Someone with compassion. Someone beautiful.
This little wild rose was nothing like the dark witch who had driven him mad by degrees, destroying every part of him and building a monster in its place.
â€œWhat species are you?â€ the female whispered and eyed his mouth. â€œAre you a vampire?â€
Vail snarled at her again, exposing his fangs, and didnâ€™t answer her. He needed his strength and was using what he had to keep his veil in place while she healed him. It was difficult to maintain mortal eye colour and the human appearance of his ears while she was funnelling power into him, causing spasms in parts of his body, making him twitch and sending pain ricocheting along his nerves.
â€œDid you serve on King Thorneâ€™s side in the war?â€
He stared blankly at her as memories swirled together in his mind, a mixed up replay of that battle. He had seen Olivia in danger and had lost his head, had slipped into a killing rage and destroyed any who had dared to come near her.
He would have killed King Thorne too if Loren hadnâ€™t appeared.
The sound of his brotherâ€™s voice had grounded him together with his presence, the comforting sense of him standing nearby. Loren had brought him back from the abyss, giving him a reprieve, like a shaft of purest sunlight penetrating the blackest boiling storm clouds.
His silence didnâ€™t deter the female.
â€œDid you fight there and were captured like me?â€
His eyes narrowed in suspicion on her. â€œYou are no warrior.â€
She was too slender. Too weak and fragile. Captivity hadnâ€™t stripped her of muscle and physical strength. She had always been this way. Slender. Delicate. Not a warrior.
The effort of lifting a sword would most likely see her falling flat on her face from the weight of it.
She shook her head, her blonde locks dancing across her shoulders. â€œI drove the witches back. I was taking down a few demons with my spells when they grabbed me.â€
Vail batted her hands away from him and growled at her.
His head swam, the cell turning with it, and he blinked hard, trying to focus on her as pain tore through his body, her healing spell going haywire inside him without her to control it. Witches. Spells.
â€œWitch.â€ He flexed his fingers, filled with a black need to wrap his hands around her throat.
The sharp sound of metal on metal shattered the thick silence and two demon males prowled into the cell. Vail fought the agony eating away at him as he lay on the stone slab and silently bared his fangs at the witch. A stay of execution. When she next crossed his path, he would kill her.
The males grabbed her and he took satisfaction from her gasp and the frightened looks she cast at the demons towering over her.
â€œTime is up. You did not manage your task,â€ one male said, a grim smile tugging at his lips as he raked his gaze over her. â€œYou must be punished.â€
She immediately reached for Vail, abject fear in her round blue eyes. It drove the darkness from him and something compelled him to rise from the hard slab and punish the demons who meant to harm her. He tried to move, wanted to snag her wrist and pull her to him, needed to protect her but every cell in his body screamed in agony. He was too weak.
He had been too weak to stop these vile creatures from stealing his armour and now he was too weak to protect the female. He was the vile one. Despicable. Pathetic. He had given up and now he needed to fight.
He wouldnâ€™t let them take her from him.
The two males roughly dragged her past him.
â€œLeave her,â€ Vail yelled and tried to move again.
He managed to fall from the slab this time, landing on his belly, and fumbled for one of the demonâ€™s ankles. The male was too strong for him and easily broke free of his grip on his boot.
The female fought them, a wild feral creature as she clawed and kicked, and even attempted to bite them. She flailed in their grip, fear etched on her delicate features, terror that dug sharp claws into Vailâ€™s heart and tore at it. They chuckled at her futile attempts to harm them.
They would pay for that.
Vail forced himself to move, refusing to let pain cripple him and stop him from reaching her. He would fight the limits of his body and his mind and wouldnâ€™t stop until he passed out or death embraced him. He would bleed himself dry and destroy himself if only it would save her.
He crawled across the grimy damp dark flagstones towards the cell door, driven to reach her and unable to ignore the instinct to protect her that ran deep in his blood.
Little Wild Rose.
The demons slammed the cell door in his face. He tried to teleport to the other side but nothing happened. He cursed the cuffs binding him and banged them against the bars, desperate to reach her, the need so intense that it overwhelmed him and brought the darkness within him swiftly rising to the surface.
They dragged her out of sight and Vail roared his anger, eliciting whimpers from the occupants of several of the cells surrounding him.
The female shrieked in agony, the sound sending a chill skating over his arms and down his spine, and igniting his rage.
He was only vaguely aware of the world as he snapped the chain between the manacles, launched to his feet and attacked the magically reinforced bars of his cell, filled with a primal need to reach and protect the female.
His Little Wild Rose.
Did you enjoy today’s snippet?
Tempted by a Rogue Prince
An elf prince on the verge of losing himself to the darkness, Vail is maddened by the forty-two centuries he was under the control of a witch and forced to war with his brother. Now, he roams Hell seeking an escape from his terrible past and the heads of all who bear magic. When demons of the Fifth Realm capture him, he sees a chance to end his existence, but when he wakes in a cell to a beautiful female, he finds not death but his only shot at salvationâ€”his true fated mate.
Captured by the enemy of the Third Realm when the war ended, Rosalind has spent months in the cells of the Fifth Realm with her magic bound, forced to heal the new kingâ€™s demon warriors, and haunted by the lives she has taken. When sheâ€™s brought to heal an unconscious man, she discovers her only hope of escape has come in the form of her worst nightmare and the first part of a prediction that might spell her doomâ€”a devastatingly handsome and dangerous dark elf prince.
Unwilling to fall under the control of anyone ever again, Vail must escape before the Fifth King can use him as a pawn in a deadly game of revenge, but he cannot leave without Rosalind, the woman who looks at him with dark desire in her stunning eyes and awakens a fierce hunger in his heart. A witch who drives him mad with need even as the darkness within whispers she will enslave him too.
Can Rosalind escape her fate as they embark on a journey fraught with danger and resist the temptation of her rogue elf prince? And can Vail overcome the memories that madden him in order to seize his chance for salvation and the heart of his fated female forever?
If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the books in the Eternal Mates romance series yet, they’re all available at major ebook retailers and in paperback, and you can find the links and samples of the books at my website: